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Holidays are going to be hard for us while we are traveling. We are so far from our families, our close friends, and the way of life that we are most familiar with. Understandably, Thanksgiving is not recognized here in Guatemala. There are very few Americans independently traveling here so Thanksgiving is going to be just another day. I wish everyone who celebrates this holiday a great day.
Cindie and I are doing well and are in good health. We are slowly adjusting to life in a new country and are eager to meet the new challenges that this creates.
At this time we have only spent a few weeks in Guatemala and my knowledge is limited so my reflections are subject to change as we spend more time here. First impressions are never completely accurate but it is also impossible not to form them. Instead of avoiding first impressions I prefer writing them down and looking back on them later. Because we have just been in Mexico it is impossible not to compare the two countries.
GUATEMALA: FIRST IMPRESSIONS
Guatemala is a lot different than Mexico. The first noticeable difference is the amount of native people here. They are very easy to recognize by the traditional way that most continue to dress. I have heard statistics that half the population of this country is indigenous, after riding around this number is easy to believe.
The Mexican peso was easy to convert to US dollars because it traded around 10 to 1. The Guatemalan Quetzal trades at about 7.5 to 1 and it is an adjustment to mentally do the math. The currency is also much more worn and faded. The same can be said about much of the buildings that we have seen so far. While at the same time the cost of travel is approximately half.
Guatemalan Spanish is somewhat different than Mexican Spanish. Many words and expressions used in Mexico are completely different in Guatemala. We have had to relearn a lot of Spanish that we had invested many hours in learning the first time. The good news is that Guatemalan Spanish seems to be spoken much more clearly and slowly. This makes it much easier to understand and hopefully learn.
Another interesting fact is that the majority of Guatemala's buses are the exact same thing that I rode to school in when I was a kid. We rode a couple buses on various day trips and it brought back some memories. Many are still yellow and announce various Unified School Districts from around the USA. My American school bus driver was never this crazy. I remember that when you got on that you had to be completely seated before the bus would move. Here the bus starts accelerating as soon as you touch the hand rail. These Guatemalan bus drivers are usually good to us while we are on our bikes but we saw a different world while we were on the bus. They take a lot of chances with the other motorists. I do not fit at all anymore. I have a hard time believing that I did when I was a kid. They must add seats when they get down here. My knees hit the seat in front of me and I have to sit sideways. We never were on one for more than a half hour. I do not think that I could take this torture any longer.
Many people asked us to add Bike Nashbar to our list of online stores. I just finished setting this up. If you have any suggestions on stores that you regularly shop at please let me know. Below is our list of online stores that we earn commission from. Thanks to all who remember us while they shop online during this holiday season.
I have used several brands of bicycle panniers and
highly recommend Ortlieb.
See Why I switched to Ortlieb waterproof Panniers?
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